Document Type

Technical Report


Computer Science and Engineering

Publication Date






Technical Report Number



This paper presents the design, deployment, and empirical study of a wireless clinical monitoring system that collects pulse and oxygen saturation readings from patients. The primary contribution of this paper is an in-depth clinical trial that assesses the feasibility of wireless sensor networks for patient monitoring in general (non-ICU) hospital units. The trial involved 32 patients monitored in a step-down cardiology unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis. During a total of 31 days of monitoring, the network achieved high reliability (median 99.92%, range 95.21% - 100%). The overall reliability of the system was dominated by sensing reliability (median 80.55%, range 0.38% - 97.69%) of the pulse oximeters. Sensing failures usually occurred in short bursts, although long bursts were also present and were caused by the sensor disconnections. We show that the sensing reliability could be significantly improved through oversampling and by implementing a disconnection alarm system that incurs minimal intervention cost. Our results also indicate that the system provided sufficient resolution to support the detection of clinical deterioration in two patients who were transferred to the ICU. The results show the feasibility of using wireless sensor networks for patient monitoring and may guide future research. We also report lessons learned from the deployment in the clinical environments with patient users.


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